Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To the tip of the Top End

Happy Territory Day everybody!

The Northern Territory obtained the right to self-rule from Canberra on 1 July 1978 and the day is celebrated each year by the locals buying and setting off fireworks along with other general rowdiness. We'll celebrate with some pool-side beers once I've knocked off from work.

Our time on Cobourg (Garig Gunak Barlu) was sensational. Six nights in an undeveloped paradise several hundred kilometers from the nearest phone or radio antenna.

I'll never know for sure what I was doing when Michael Jackson died as I only found out he was dead last night and the article didn't say when it happened. But chances are I was either fishing, reading a Dick Francis novel or blowing my nose.

And definitely sweating profusely in the sweltering heat, not helped by what in cooler climes may have been a mild dose of the flu. I'm hoping it was a mild case of H1N1 (which has even made its way all the way up here) so I've got some immunity when round 2 comes to bite us next winter.

Cobourg would be an horrific place to spend any time if you're scared of our more dangerous natives. We saw more snakes than over the rest of the trip combined. There were spiders everywhere. The crocs were also a real danger both in and out of the water.

If anyone thinks fishing is boring, they should definitely give it a go up here. More fruitful from a boat certainly, but never a dull moment from the beach with passing crocs and huge sharks just waiting for you to over balance or lose your concentration.

It certainly gave me a new appreciation for the illegals who try and make the crossing in their ricketty boats from Indonesia. I think if they were made to swim the last few kilometers then we could probably afford to grant those that make it instant citizenship along with a quick promotion to the olympic swim team.

The birdlife was pretty spectacular. This goshawk was keeping his eyes out for some breakfast snacks.

The humidity was incredible and the clouds built up each day, but nothing unfortunately ever came of it.

Troopy at the tip of Smith Point. She's booked in for a well earned (and a little overdue) service in Katherine next week.

Other than Cape York the hardest driving is now behind us which is a little sad. We're already talking about crossing the Simpson desert for our honeymoon if anyone fancies tagging along.

Sunset over sea from Smith Point.

There seem to be varying degrees of warning when it comes to crocodile signs. Achtung always seems to get my attention. Not a good time to breakdown.

After crossing the East Alligator again we stopped to check out the fascinating and extensive art sites at Ubirr.

Some of the oldest pieces have been dated at around 20,000 years old. The most recent pieces were done in 1985. Without a guide it wasn't always easy for us to tell which was which.

This represented a thylacine which has been extinct on the mainland for thousands of years so presumably this piece was quite old.

Views of the escarpment and surrounding wetlands from the lookout on the Ubirr walk.

Some of my various fishing successes from Cobourg.

It may have taken 275 days of the trip but we finally decided to keep one and we got four decent size fillets from a good size Trevally.

It was the first fish I've gutted and given the bendiness of the knife I had to do it with I was fairly proud of the result and it tasted superb.

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