4/ Girding Australia

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi quickly discovered that the wild north, is well… wild. Despite buffel grass being the dominant plant species, there are still many patches of native bush stuffed to the brim (of yer cowboy hat) with wildlife. Also, that some experiences are greatly enhanced by company.

Leg 16 – DarWIN

Darwin is a hot, and humid city that Dr Leanda loved for the friendliness of the locals. Very relaxed and easy-going was the general vibe, perhaps because it is too hot and muggy to rush.

Dr Leanda – complete with all-over-her-body sunburn – dashed to picked up her friend Lichen-lover Lee Ping from the Darwin airport in the middle of the night. The two had met two years ago, in the wild rainforests of Borneo during a scientific expedition where Dr Leanda searched for trapdoor spiders, and Lichen-lover Lee Ping searched for lichen. The expedition was as insanely awesome as it sounds, with the two taking a lichen to each other, remaining friends ever since. However, Lichen-lover Lee Ping was not staying in Darwin long, and so the two tried to see as much as possible by going to a crocodile park.

There were many crocodiles.

As well as some other charismatic creatures…

Even a very pretty kingfisher, the photo of which is a great candidate for ‘Crap bird photography’.

DSCN2842.jpg

Dr Leanda was less than impressed when one such creature decided to relieve itself on her hands…

DSCN2855

They also indulged in some very Aussie tucker – crocodile kebab sticks and kangaroo snags.

IMG_8201

 

Then they visited the famous Mindil Beach Markets, where many peculiar treasures were found.

Canine Indi was unimpressed by being left out of the fun all day, so Dr Leanda took her for a very long walk along the beach that evening.

They also found hermit crabs. One of them had lost a shell…

IMG_8230

Luckily the duo were able to find some new real estate easily enough.

IMG_8226

Very, very early the next morning, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi said farewell to Lichen-lover Lee Ping. And then had a big sleep in to try recover from all the lost sleep.

Leg 17/ Still DarWINNING

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi visited a fish and chip shop called Frying Nemo that evening. The Barra burger was exceptional, and the icy cold beer a real treat. They slept well at the marina that night.

IMG_8284.jpg

While in Darwin, Dr Leanda was curious to meet the famous Arachnovangelist Caitlin she had corresponded with via Twitter. Keen to see all the spider specimens Arachnovangelist Caitlin had collected, they organised to meet. Perhaps sharing a love of spiders made them fast friends. Dr Leanda particularly loved all the live St Andrew Cross spiders that shared Arachnovangelist Caitlin’s apartment in large webs on structures built especially for them. How altruistic! Seeing Dr Leanda’s enthusiasm, Arachnovangelist Caitlin arranged for a night-time tour of East Point. They saw many interesting critters, but few were photogenic.

IMG_8463.jpg

Unfortunately, Canine Indi was not allowed into the area (despite horses seemingly encouraged?!), so Dr Leanda made it up to her the next day with another beach walk featuring even more hermit crabs.

IMG_8339

The next day Dr Leanda visted the museum at which Arachnovangelist Caitlin worked – the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. It was one of the best museums Dr Leanda has ever visited. The resident taxidermists obviously knew how to do their stuff(ing)!

Dr Leanda even got a special behind-the-scenes look at their trapdoor spider collection.

IMG_8361

She felt very special.

 

Leg 18/ Termite country

After a few minor repairs on Bowser, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi were on the road again, heading down towards Tennant Creek and then east towards Mt Isa in Queensland.

IMG_8382

There were many termites.

Many, many termites.

DSCN3043.jpg

But Dr Leanda also found a trapdoor spider colony, and dug up a specimen to send to Arachnovangelist Caitlin.

Although there were not many places to stop, the friendly people made the journey much more enjoyable. There were some real characters on the road… Motorcyclists Barry was kind enough to pose for a photo next to his Harley Davidson. The Centrelink bumper sticker is one Dr Leanda found highly amusing.

IMG_8387

Around a campfire Dr Leanda learnt from Ex-trucker John that Canine Indi should get a tick wash before going to Queensland, some good spots to visit, and that she should *never ever* sell Bowser because she will regret it. Ex-trucker John also suggested some wider tyres to help avoid getting bogged (again).

Around a different campfire, Dr Leanda and Canine Indi met Kiwis Pat and Peter. Dr Leanda very much wants to visit Coober Pedi after talking to them about the underground movements in which they took apart. They were very interested in the local trapdoor spiders… Dr Leanda had a top end laugh.

DSCN3125.jpg

Dr Leanda and Canine Indi moved rather quickly through the very remote region of Australia, noting the vast wild landscapes often giving way to sad monocultures of buffel grass. Low-lying invasive vegetation such as buffel grass provides little shade or wind-breaking allowed for extreme heat and dangerous headwinds.

DSCN3168.jpg

After crossing the border though, a small paradise in the form of a billabong appeared. It was here that they settled in for an extra night to recover, and enjoy watching the native wildlife drinking their fill at the desert oasis.

Dr Leanda had fun playing with a swish camera and taking out-of-focus photos of birds.

Canine Indi enjoyed the smells.

IMG_8419.jpg

More adventures on the horizon soon.

IMG_8437.jpg

3/ Girding Australia

Leg 8: A fiery rant, followed by Sandfire

Dr Leanda has been disappointed at the prolific number of introduced species she has encountered on her travels thus far. Tallies for goats, cattle, cats and foxes far exceed that of native species… but far be it for Dr Leanda to focus just on the cute and fluffy animals. Buffel grass muffles the otherwise majestic landscape of the Pilbara. Attitudes vary heavily based on whether one is sitting in the pastoral side, or the conservation reserved side of the barbed wire fence. Dr Leanda hates all invasive weeds with fiery passion, as it tends to anguish and/or extinguish her trapdoor spider compatriots.

ANYWAY, Sandfire was a good place to stop – cheap and easy. The roadhouse hosted a mango tree orchard that hosted screeching flying foxes that hosted much guano (A video that fully captures their screeching may be uploaded in the future).

Canine Indi cannot usually jump onto the bed herself, but was highly successful just after recovering a large amount of guano on the ground and transferring it to herself. What an achievement.

To be fair, it could have been peacock poop too. They were proudly strutting their stuff, while begging for food stuffs.

IMG_8063.jpg

Certainly was not camel poop. Though, they were around. On the pastoral side of the fence.

IMG_8059.jpg

Canine Indi was too tired to drive after being thoroughly washed and dried, and fell asleep at the wheel.

58752284831__F79E2992-923C-4413-AF63-60E81A8A4100.jpg

Leg 9: Left little Broome to be bogged

A very scary thing happened to Dr Leanda when she entered Broome. She realised she had no internet AND no phone reception. Telstra was down in all of the Kimberley according the petrol station lady. The horror.

So she went and did some washing and took Canine Indi for a quick walk.

IMG_8079.JPG

Dr Leanda wanted to attend the Thursday night markets, but since Canine Indi was not allowed to come, they decided to push on to Willie Creek Pearl Farm.

Now, this place was recommended to Dr Leanda, but it was a highly regrettable decision.

Not to get too bogged down in the details just yet, but as it turns out, Dr Leanda’s beloved Bowser despises even the most shallow of loose sand… Or loves it so much she drowns herself in it?

Knowing this, Dr Leanda was ever so careful on the 35 minute drive down corregated road. Upon arrival, while looking for a place to set up, they got stuck for two nights.

DSCN2593.jpg

Dr Leanda decided to settle in for a bit.

DSCN2588.jpg

After a whole day of digging, on the second night, after managing to mangle a hose to one of Bowser’s water tanks with the jack, she decided to seek help the next morning.

IMG_8086.JPG

Luckily, it was a pleasant morning walk to the closest 4wd. With many other tracks along the track. How meta.

And a sunrise.

IMG_8095

A lovely couple freed Bowser within 5 minutes.

IMG_8099.jpg

Dr Leanda learnt that asking for help early, may save much stress, time and effort in future.

Leg 10: Walla-by for dinner tonight?

Fitzroy Crossing Lodge was a truly lovely place to stay. Reception. Internet. Many people with 4wds around. Lots of water. Toilets. Showers. A bar. Wallabies. No sandy patches (Dr Leanda may have been a little scarred by the bogging).

Canine Indi moved on pretty quick after spotting a wallaby.

DSCN2598

There was a stand off.

IMG_8112.JPG

Dinner was fish and chips + ice cold beer from the tap… and the taste of freedom.

Leg 11:

Back on the road again, fully revived. Dr Leanda and Canine Indi were in high spirits.

Dr Leanda especially loved all the termite mounds.

img_8118.jpg

They met a 82 year old cyclist called Paul Davenport. Cyclist Paul has cycled around Budapest, Africa, New Zealand and is now doing Australia.

DSCN2612.jpg

And took in the (other) ancient scenery.

Then they stayed the night near Ord River. No ord-inary river perhaps. They explored.

DSCN2633.jpg

Shortly after em-bark-ing, Dr Leanda found some former insect enclosures.

DSCN2637.jpg

There were many cool rocks in laying in bed.

Indi found a rock that blocked what probably used to be the road across the river.

DSCN2669

Along the road they traveled, until… a cane(d) toad!

DSCN2687.jpg

After much morbid fascination, they traveled back to Bowser with the ghost current.

DSCN2678.jpg

Leg 12: Some gorge-ous scenery

Getting an early start, for a truly long haul of driving, through Kununurra…

img_8140.jpg

While re-fueling, Dr Leanda found herself agreeing with some postcards…

img_8146.jpg

But not others…

img_8145.jpg

Then over the border.

IMG_8147.JPG

Canine Indi suggested to Dr Leanda that they pull over at a scenic spot for lunch.

img_8148.jpg

Thinking that she must be hallucinating to hear Canine Indi speak, Dr Leanda quickly agreed.

IMG_8150.JPG

The spot for lunch was at Judbarra/Gregory National Park. Later that night, Grey Nomad Doris told Dr Leanda later that the native tree in the foreground can be harvested for cotton and her grandmother used to make pillows from it.

DSCN2693.jpg

Dr Leanda had zero reception that night, but received the starry night very well indeed.

Leg 13: Choose campsites wisely

After a long drive, with little rest, Dr Leanda stayed at a caravan park near Katherine the next night. In between two young families, and a visiting school group. She missed the grey nomads immensely.

Leg 14: The ter-mighty

Luckily, the next day was filled with awesome termite mounds. Dr Leanda’s mood immediately improved.

DSCN2746.jpg

Which seemed to have formed by slowly eating the trees.

DSCN2750.jpg

Canine Indi did not approve of the ones dressed like humans.

DSCN2720.jpg

Leg 15: Dr Leanda reveals all too much about herself

Some may not know this about Dr Leanda, but she has a distinct dislike of tan lines. As such, she often forgoes clothing when catching rays. After a distinctly terrible caravan park experience the night before, Dr Leanda decided to see if a nudist retreat would be any better. Plus they had free laundry facilities, ironically enough.

It was so much better. Socialising was encouraged, with darts every night, pool aerobics every morning and frequent pub outings.

All other caravan park experiences paled by comparison. Dr Leanda also paled by comparison amongst the nudists. She tried to fix this, but got burnt from too much sun during pool aerobics.

She can reveal that there was green ant nest was near her camp site.

IMG_8160.JPG

But the site itself was somewhere secret, that cannot be revealed.

IMG_8163

2/ Girding Australia

Dr Leanda is mindful of mindless scrolling through previous posts, so with this in mind, she has mindfully started a separate thread. Dr Leanda feels like she has already lost her mind, and is perhaps writing ‘mind’ overly much to try find some piece of mind.

Leg 2 – Blue seas and trees

Sandy Cape evoked strong feelings of nostalgia, but northward Canine Indi and Dr Leanda trekked to make new memories. There were a few brilliant sights along the way, and a big favourite was the large crayfish guarding Dongara – any invertebrate statues would likely catch Dr Leanda’s eye stalks.

Crayfish dongara

Mind was blown away by leaning trees, and someone intentionally blue it.

blue trees

They were painted blue to hightlight blue days apparently – which is excellent, but also excellent that writer of an article reporting this did not shy away from puns.

Dr Leanda had never visited Geraldton before, and was looking forward to seeing a place she had heard so much about… however after seeing a ‘God will save your soul’ banner near the entrance to the town… and then another four Christian crosses before reaching a petrol station, she nearly drove right on through. While respectful and accepting of others beliefs, Dr Leanda also has a slight aversion to Christianity due to a misspent youth at a religious school. *Queerly* they put her on the ‘right’ track.

At any rate, Dr Leanda repented – being aware of her own biases and discrimination – and stayed at Sunset Beach.

DSCN2292.jpg

Sunset beach was lovely, and Canine Indi was particularly glad they disem-barked.

 

Leg 3 – Strolling among stromatolites

The next stop was Hamlin Station and what are essentially living fossils. These sound scarier and more menacing that they actually are, but Dr Leanda nerded out because she is a scientist. She was also so excited that she forgot to bring her camera, and her phone died. So below is an image by Lochman Transparencies, that can be found on the website by Bush Heritage that explain why stromatolites are so cool (Dr Leanda met the stromatolite expert mentioned in the article, and was thrilled to meet someone more nerdy than herself).

 

12158-stromatolites-close.jpg

Dr Leanda undrstands if you do not nerd out about stromatolites, Canine Indi did not understand what all the fuss was about either, and probably would have preferred to stay in bed.

IMG_7963.jpg

 

To feel more accepted in her nerdy ways, Dr Leanda decided to attend the science fair organised by Bush Heritage at Hamlin Station Stay. The fair opened with a welcome to country, and interspersed were talks related to aboriginal heritage. Dr Leanda even learnt some Malgana words for the local critters, but regrets not asking if there was a word for spider. There were many different nerdy (western) science talks to enjoy, and she learnt much about the local seagrasses, sandalwood projects and other conservation initiatives – including a catchy tune about Dirk Hartog Island (Wirruwana). Above is an absurdly brief recount, but Richard McLennan, a Bush Heritage employee, PhD student (an excellent retirement venture if you ask me!), and all-round top Aussie bushie, said it best in his blog.

 

Leg 4 – A brief stopover

Dr Leanda had high hopes of reaching Carnarvon on the evening of the science fair. However, she responsibly pulled over and slept somewhere on the side of the road. It was not a good sleep mind, as what could have only been a goat kept her awake until she realised it was, in fact, a goat. She was more scared it was a human. Funny world we live in where we are more scared of our own species… anyway not all was lost (though much sleep certainly was), as she took a nice piccy of a nest. At some point she plans to crop it and photoshop to make it look even nicer.

 

 

DSCN2321.jpg

Leg 5 – Car? nar, van

So far so good driving in Bowser – she was particularly protective of occupants from goats, or so Dr Leanda herd. But because of her bulk, she cannot squeeze through drive-ins. Having had a craving for a hot chook since Geraldton, Dr Leanda decided to Chicken Treat herself and Canine Indi. They did, after all, a great deal of time just walking around Carnarvan taking in the sights. Including The famous Dish (not Dr Leanda’s photo).

images.jpg

Dr Leanda’s favourite part was an art installation in the middle of the main strip, that was an iron silhouette of a man drinking a beer. At least, she assumed it was a beer and not something less manly… otherwise he might’ve been *cast* out. Dr Leanda somewhat Fe-verishly made many more puns on the subject, but deleted them, being ever so mine-ful of her audience.

Being quite attached to sleeping in fully-equipped Bowser and not having to pay dues, Dr Leanda camped the night at Yalabia Rest Area. Nestled in amongst the grey nomads, no goats bothered her and Canine Indi that night – they even got some nice photos of the dry river bed before sleeping off all that hot chook!

DSCN2341.jpg

Very dry.

DSCN2354.jpg

Leg 6 – A very muddy dog

Canine Indi is always true to her nature. No sooner had the pair stopped for lunch at a rest area near a nice looking river, that Dr Leanda realised her mistake. It was hot, Canine Indi was a dog, and there was an inviting water body to cool off in nearby. She sighed deeply, knowing the inevitable, and got changed into an old pair of shorts.

Shore enough.

DSCN2373.jpg

They continued to explore.

DSCN2374.jpg

There were some flying insects. A parasitic wasp with spider prey in tow was videoed, but not (yet) uploaded. Dragonflies were mating on the fly too. They found one taking a breather.

DSCN2434.jpg

Then they found some interesting structures underneath a rocky overhang.

DSCN2419

‘Bird nests!’ Dr Leanda informed Canine Indi with great authority. But, she was not at all certain what kind, and actually had little authority on the subject. Canine Indi was not listening anyway. She was too busy getting even muddier.

DSCN2390.jpg

Luckily, they were staying at Peedamulla Camp that night where Canine Indi had a hot, soapy shower. She didn’t want to come out of the freshly cleaned Bowser after that either…

Leg 7 – Yule love it ‘ere

Yule River was an excellent place to camp. Dr Leanda loved it because she could almost fully embrace her inner hermit… unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), she could not do so as grey nomads were beyond eye-sight but still too close to feel completely alone in the wild.

DSCN2534.jpg

Canine Indi loved it because there was much walking and sniffing of interesting smells.

DSCN2586.jpg

Perhaps all the animal tracks?

DSCN2542.jpg

There were many birds. Dr Leanda tried to take photos, but blurry feather balls were the results.

The sunsets were nice though.

And just landscape generally.

DSCN2549.jpg

DSCN2555.jpg

Yule love the next installment for sure!

 

 

 

 

Girding Australia

Introduction

Brace yourself readers, Dr Leanda is attempting to ‘blog’. To clarify any younger audiences, a ‘blog’ is usually a series of ramblings about the author, their interests or areas of expertise. In Dr Leanda’s case, she is documenting a trip she is taking around the edges of Australia.

Her trip arose for multiple reasons, but has been in the planning since late 2018. After buying a converted Mercedes Sprinter – of whom she has lovingly dubbed “Bowser” as the enormous size reminds her of slowly barging bulkly through traffic in MarioKart 64 – Dr Leanda spent about four months readying Bowser for a trip around Australia. She is pretty luxurious.

IMG_6869

Dr Leanda is not traveling the red/yellow/brown/white dirt tracks alone though!

and your little dog

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana Jones (aka Indi) is coming with her.

IMG_7946.jpg

Her cat Chester (aka Jabba) was meant to come as well, but threw up on her pillow a few days prior to disembarking, and so, it was decided he be left in the care of others who will clean up his spew until she returns. He does not mind being left behind.

img_7151.jpg

Indi, on the other paw, will have quite a ball on the road. Especially when she is bought a ball, and there are roads present.

Leg 1

After a somewhat late departure from Perth, Dr Leanda legged it to her childhood holiday haunt Sandy Cape. Her father, Mr Mason, also accompanied her on this first leg.

There was much reminiscing on family memories. A plaque was planted in 2014 at the site of the family shack to commemorate.

IMG_7876

Walking dogs along the beaches was a lot of time well spent. Indi and Evie (Mr Mason’s dog) are old friends.

IMG_7920.jpg

They both learnt to sing from Dr Mason’s first dog Fitz. A much more refined form of communicating as opposed to barking. He was an excellent pooch too; very gentle, loving, and friendly to all. Dr Mason loved him very dearly, and spread his ashes at what she thought might be his favourite beach.

IMG_7877.jpg

A sea-hare was found washed up on the shore. Dr Leanda tried to play doctor by putting it into a red bucket of sea water. The sea-hare seemed to be alive, and was released when the tide was going out. Only after much observation…

IMG_7890.jpg

Losing fishing sinkers to seasweed, then using rocks for sinkers. No photos available (because phones and stinky fish-hands do not mix well… ). In the wild hopes of nabbing a whiting fish, worms were dug for in the thick, stinking seaweed. Worms were obtained, but not whiting.

IMG_7930.jpg

Winning at scrabble, sipping whiskey near a fire on a ledge overlooking the bay, while the sun goes down was a good way to end the first leg.

DSCN2268

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑